A popular research study conducted by Gartner in 2001 revealed that 50% of all implemented Customer Relationship Management programs were failing to meet expectations. Many speculated that technology was driving the CRM strategies, rather than the other way around. By 2009, a Forrester study showed that little had changed when they reported that 47% of CRM programs were falling short of reaching the goals set by CRM strategies. Three primary areas that were identified as motivating factors for developing improved CRM systems were:
- Improving connections with customers in a way that uses technology to prioritize human driven interactions.
- Replacing systems that impede high quality customer relationships.
- Implementing systems that offer more personalized customer communications through smart devices and social media.
Effective CRM depends on quality client communication. Without personalized communications with clients, businesses will struggle to market, sell, or support clients. Customers expect CRM systems to have the ability to quickly access a 360-Degree Customer View in order to provide efficient and effective communications.
How Does Integrated Communication Improve CRM?
More avenues of communication are available to reach customers than ever before. Businesses who develop CRM strategies that contact customers in the way in which they want to be contacted will realize success. Many forward thinking enterprises are no longer regarding CRM as an isolated event, but rather incorporating the systems into the heart of the business, using integrated communications. Considering a client's demographics, such as age, socio-economic status, and more allows for businesses to carefully strategize the types and frequency of contact, maximizing each contact. For example, research has shown that millennials prefer to communicate with retailers through e-mail. The senior population tends to respond more favorably to a personalized approach, whether through a phone call or personal e-mail. Implementing integrated communication systems allows businesses to understand customer nuances and respond accordingly.
In the digital age of smart communications, there is still tremendous value in making a phone call to a client. Since it is oftentimes less common to receive a personal phone call than an e-mail or text message, customers appreciate the impression of customer care that accompanies a phone call. However, their expectation is that the phone call will be efficient and productive, whether inbound or outbound. Having immediate access to a customer's complete information, including prior incoming and outgoing calls, e-mail communications, exchanged documents, etc, will allow for the customer service representative to base their communication efforts on as much data as possible. Seamless phone calls, where the customer is not required to provide background information or explain prior communications, lay the foundation for well structured and high quality customer communications, which inevitably lead to increased customer satisfaction rates. Customers expect that no matter which representative is on the phone call, they will receive the same level of service based on the fact that the representative has access to all information and prior communications.
Automated sending and tracking of e-mail communications not only speeds up response times, but also ensures that e-mails are followed up with alternative forms of communications. A 2013 Experian Marketing Study analyzed a wide assortment of mass e-mail marketing techniques and determined that personalizing mass marketing e-mails resulted in a staggering 29% increase of unique opens. Additionally, 70% of the businesses surveyed were not taking advantage of the option to personalize mass e-mails. Integrated communication as part of a CRM strategy allows for the maximum level of personalization, yielding optimal levels of responsiveness from customers.
The ability gather a company’s entire e-mail communication into one Unified Platform (and to open and review the content of each e-mail delivered to the customer when needed) allows for the opportunity to personalize all future communications with the client accordingly. Using integrated communications also enables analytics reports to be generated and analyzed to determine the effectiveness of e-mails and to drive more effective e-mail campaigns. Personal e-mails and mass e-mails can be coordinated to prevent the flooding of an inbox or the redundancy of information that is delivered to the client.
Businesses that utilize personal and shared meetings calendars are better equipped to manage upcoming meetings. Organizing shared calendars as an internal process within a business allows for the management of company resources, such as vehicles, conference rooms, or presentation equipment. Personal meetings calendars are effective for organizing personal meetings or appointments. Using a 360-Degree Customer View, upcoming meetings can be scheduled or viewed right in the customer profile. Quick notes about meetings can be updated within the customer profile or detailed meeting forms may be completed in order to document more extensive information for meetings held with the client.
The client profile contains all associated documents pertaining to sales, contracts, proposals, protocol, etc. Having immediate access to all documents, even when on the go, allows for the customer to be serviced by customer support team members of any level and from any location. The ability to refer to any document within the client profile, while on a phone call or in a meeting with them provides a superior customer experience, which translates into high customer satisfaction. Shuffling around through papers or searching document sharing files is no longer necessary when each customer profile contains all pertinent information with the touch of a button.
Short Text Messages (SMS)
Keeping customers informed through text messaging is an effective form of communication for updates or announcements. Customers expect to be contacted through SMS and appreciate the non-intrusive updates. Text messaging is a useful way to inform clients about upcoming meetings, expiration of contracts, status updates, etc without using too many company resources or interfering with the customer's day. Furthermore, having this communication channel integrated into a client profile, adds completeness to the client’s communication history.
E-mail marketing and social media work well together and customers consider contacts through social media to be a form of communication. Integrating social media marketing, specifically targeted efforts with CRM will provide an opportunity to engage with the customer on a more personal level. Understanding which social media campaigns have reached a specific customer paints a more holistic strategy of how to approach the customer during future transactions.
Additionally, customers are utilizing social media increasingly to comment on customer experiences and to provide meaningful feedback. Having the ability to add the feedback to the customer profile completes the CRM snapshot and provides additional information from which future interaction can be based.
Reviews and Surveys
Obtaining customer feedback is essential in order to understand business successes and failures. Having the ability to integrate the feedback into a customer profile and respond to the feedback provides a huge benefit to any business. The ability to easily access the customer's response to prior experiences with the business allows for representatives to provide an exceptional customer service experience based on the outcome of the previous interaction.
Contacting customers is more complicated than ever and customer expectations are at an all time high. Businesses who think of customer communications as an essential part of the CRM process will be positioned to succeed. The ability to conduct well informed, meaningful customer interactions with the use of a Unified Communication Platform will ensure that customer service processes run efficiently, that customer service and sales representatives are well informed about every aspect of the client, and that customer expectations are met. Integrating multiple forms of communication in an organized and well planned system is not only a more effective method for employees, but ensures the most comprehensive delivery of information and communication to the client at every level of interaction.
Centralized information systems also allow for in depth analysis of customer information in the form of reports and analytics.
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